Prospecting to find new business is key to being able to consistently increase sales. Depending on what you sell, prospecting could be accomplished in different ways. The most common form of prospecting is cold calling or making phone calls to find opportunities. But prospecting could also include knocking on doors, sending emails, networking, etc.
Unfortunately, in some ways prospecting is more of an art than a science. There is no formula that says, “If you do this and if you do that, you will be successful and you will find opportunity.” This is because every company and every individual that you interact with is different and thus the outcomes from your actions will vary. Although, there are things that you can do to minimize the variance and improve your consistency and sales effectiveness.
Make time for prospecting
As a sales person, there is typically so much work that needs to be done that the business day can often be full without doing any prospecting. With this being the case, to make sure enough time is being allocated to prospecting, and to make sure you get fully into prospecting mode when you do it, schedule part of the day and week specifically for prospecting.
Research the marketplace, the companies, and the individuals that you are prospecting in. This will not only help you to find opportunity, but it will also help you to be prepared and knowledgeable when talking with prospects. Being diligent in the area of researching will have a direct impact on your ability to increase sales.
Prepare when prospecting by having questions that you want to ask planned out. In addition, try to have an idea of what you would like to accomplish and get out of every call and interaction you have.
It is normal to find yourself not being excited about having to make cold calls. One way to decrease any apprehension is to start with some warm up calls. These are calls to people that might be more friendly and receptive to your call. They could be people you have spoken with before, existing clients, people lower in the organization, etc. After you get a few good warm up calls under your belt, it is easier to get in the groove and get into prospecting mode.
Top-down and bottom-up selling
A lot is preached about selling can only be from the top of an organization down. This is true as executive sponsorship and involvement is critical. But it is also important to do some bottom-up selling at the same time as you can get a tremendous amount of information at the lower levels.
Every interaction with a prospect is an opportunity to get information. Make sure to take advantage of every opportunity. Find out issues, challenges, contacts, organizational details, politics, history, etc.
Track your prospecting activity so that you and your management know what your activity levels are. Also track when you called and spoke with whom and the information that was collected. This is key for you to operate at a high level and increase sales.
After each interaction, reflect on what was discussed and look for areas that could have been executed better or questions that could have been asked. Going through this process will help you to get better which will help you to increase sales.